Research Of The Beyond The Label Campaign By The National Council Of Social Service In Singapore


The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) is a statutory board governed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development of the Singapore government. As part of a five-year public education effort, NCSS launched its first nation-wide mental health anti-stigma campaign - Beyond the Label – in August 2018. The Beyond the Label movement aims to address stigma faced by persons with mental health conditions in Singapore. Beyond the Label Co-created with individuals in recovery, the campaign is a response to key findings from a 2016 NCSS Quality of Life study as well as a newly released 2017 NCSS study on attitudes towards people with mental health conditions in Singapore. The data and findings emphasise a pressing need to change the attitudes, perceptions and behaviour of the public towards people with mental health conditions, in order to dispel stigma. With the intention to change public opinion, The Beyond the Label campaign aims to be the driver of change and tackle misconceptions associated with individuals suffering from mental health conditions.

The campaign hopes to achieve the following 5 objectives:

  1. Raise awareness of the stigma towards persons with mental health conditions.
  2. Celebrate the resilience, strength and contributions of individuals in recovery from mental health conditions.
  3. Educate and empower the public with the skills and knowledge to interact and support persons in Facilitate more conversations on the topic of mental health.
  4. Encourage more balanced reporting and portrayal of persons with mental health conditions in the media.

Current Social Media Efforts

NCSS leverages on both traditional media and new media for social marketing. Their marketing promotion pivots around accepting individuals with mental health conditions for who they are. With the tagline: “Mental illness does not discriminate, so why should we?”, NCSS hopes to encourage the public to go beyond the label of a mental health diagnosis, and to view and regard persons with mental health conditions for who they are. As the campaign is supported and funded by the Tote Board Mental Health Strategic Initiative, NCSS had the necessary funds to advertise the campaign with posters at MRT stations and with features in The Strait Times and Channel News Asia. With sufficient media coverage, the campaign has been able to gain traction and create buzz. Online, the organization is active on several popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.

As a non-profit organization, social media marketing provides NCSS with easier access to potential broad audience at a lower cost. These “social communities” allows NCSS to share influential information about the stigma surrounding persons with mental health conditions as well as create a community of followers who support in this cause and co-create content through their followship using the hashtag #Beyondthelabel. With constant updates on their social media pages, focusing on creating a story surrounding the Beyond the Label movement, the campaign effectively raises awareness and establishes brand loyalty. The campaign uses real-life stories of persons with mental health conditions to evoke feelings of empathy or even guilt in the viewers and to initiate behavioural change.

NCSS’s Facebook page has garnered 24, 851 likes and 25, 261 followers. In addition, the organization has created a Facebook page solely dedicated to the Beyond the Label campaign. Being a newly created page, its outreach has been quite substantial, with 6, 015 likes and 6, 513 followers. The page is constantly updated every 2-3 days varying between videos, photos and event-based posts. A couple of posts with videos have went viral. Facebook users are actively contributing and commenting on the posts shared, however, with slow replies from the page administrator, two-way engagement is still lacking. The NCSS Youtube channel serves as an avenue for the organization to share short videos ranging from social experiments to informative clips. With 23, 362 subscribers and high viewership for videos pertaining to their campaigns, the videos are widely circulated on Facebook, Youtube acts as a channel for the organization to consolidate their campaign videos. Following the launch of the campaign, short 1-2 minute clips are consistently uploaded on the channel, with persons in recovery sharing their stories, their experiences and something significant to their journey. Personal delivery serves as a powerful tool in engaging with the viewers. The NCSS harnesses the information they are sharing with their communities to advocate for them to act in some way: share information with others, or give their time. While present on a number of social media platforms, NCSS fails to remain active on Instagram and Twitter.

On Instagram, the organization has 3, 456 followers and active. However, there is no distinctive focus on the Beyond the Label campaign and posts are often random in nature. Despite having over 3, 000 followers, there is little to almost no engagement with their posts. Lastly, NCSS’ Twitter account has 163 followers and 300 tweets. The account used to be active however, the last post was in 2016 and the account has not been updated since.

Target Audience & Alternative Platforms

NCSS employs demographic segmentation, dividing and targeting 3 distinct groups – individuals, youth (age) and corporations (occupation and educational background). The NCSS website provides avenues for the 3 distinct groups to educate themselves and how they can make a difference for the Beyond the Label movement. In addition, NCSS also utilizes behavioural segmentation, using both traditional and social media marketing to reach out to non-tech savvy and tech savvy audiences. Traditional marketing such as campaign posters are able to effectively communicate the given message to non-tech savvy individuals. Such posters can be seen in public places such as at bus stops or Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations.

One strategy NCSS should employ is to start a blog for the campaign. Posts would be stories surrounding the campaign and persons with mental health conditions or family and friends of such individuals could contribute. This would enhance support for the Beyond the Label movement and provide individuals a platform to come together and share their personal stories. In addition, content created on the blog can be shared on other social media platforms as well. As videos shared on Facebook have went viral, NCSS can leverage on the current interest of the general public regarding personal stories and convert these individuals to blog readers.

Lastly, creating a blog and an online community with the purpose of sharing would be in line with the campaigns’ objectives in raising awareness, facilitating more conversations surrounding mental health and celebrating the strength of individuals in recovery. Alternatively, NCSS could consider rebranding their Instagram account or creating an Instagram handle specifically for the Beyond the Label Campaign. Instead of having random posts, the organization should consider creating a marketing strategy to share their campaigns on the platform. This would allow them to engage the 3, 456 users following their Instagram page. NCSS could model the Beyond the Label campaign after the Life Beyond Grades initiative. The Life Beyond Grades movement stemmed from the concern with the rising rates of depression in children and aims to bring about a “mindset shift away from the relentless pursuit of results”. The movement was widely successful, and individuals showed support for the movement by sharing their PSLE grades and stories on Instagram via the #LifeBeyondGrades hashtag. NCSS could leverage on this to bring their own initiative to Instagram as well and have persons in recovery share their story with the hashtag #BeyondtheLabel. Theories NCSS’ Beyond the Label campaign models several social media marketing theories. These include but are not limited to: The Social Network Theory – Granovetter’s Strength of Weak Ties and Social Object Theory.

Granovetter’s Strength of Weak Ties Theory explains the existence of strong and weak ties. Strong ties are first-degree connections, whereas weak ties are individuals a degree or two outside of initial connections. As most individuals have many more weak tie connections than strong ties, they act as bridges between various communities of strong ties. In the case of NCSS’ Beyond the Label movement, educating individuals of the stigma surrounding persons with mental health conditions, urges them to use social media as an avenue to promote the movement. As individuals view, like and most importantly, share the campaign posts, they share the posts with their strong and weak ties. Furthermore, with more sharing, the campaign and posts are circulated to more communities and individuals. The Social Object Theory supports this view and highlights that successful social media interactions centres on an object. This “object” acts as a centrepiece in a dialogue between two or more individuals. Both theories thus, demonstrates how information regarding a certain topic can be spread via social connections and relationships in communities. A small movement in one part of the network can spread and have a significant influence on the entire network, which is evident in the number of views, likes and shares the Beyond the Label videos have garnered since the start of the campaign. As the campaign is still in its early stages the overall success of the campaign is still uncertain. NCSS has employed STEPPS for the Beyond the Label campaign.

The campaign has social currency as sharing the campaign and championing a social cause would make the sender look good, this capitalises on an individual’s desire to share. In addition, emotional appeal and story-telling is used through the personal videos. The movement has received commendable feedback and is slowly gaining traction with the general public. With a long road ahead, I believe the campaign will gain more attention from the press and the local community. Reflection Founded in 2011, RedMart is Singapore’s leading online supermarket, competing against Honestbee, NTUC Fairprice On and Amazon Prime Now. The company’s unique selling point is their Price Match Guarantee, the promise of low prices. RedMart main obstacle is the reluctance for individuals to convert from shopping in physical supermarkets to online grocery shopping. Concerns include the quality and freshness of products bought online, delivery chargers and convenience. To tackle this, RedMart has been rolling out promotional campaigns on various social media platforms to attract consumers and capture more market share.

Both NCSS’ campaign and RedMart’s campaigns focuses on the issue of changing mindsets and behaviour. RedMart needs to tackle the lack of trust and surrounding online grocery shopping and educate the general public (potential customers) regarding their practices and the way the business operates to ensure quality, freshness and convenience. Applying the purchase process, RedMart first needs to increase awareness and maintain an active presence on social media platforms. Next, to influence desire and encourage, the company could market promotions and offer free delivery for a customer’s first purchase. In addition, RedMart needs to facilitate purchase, this could be achieved through introducing a perk, e. g. “follow” or “like” RedMart’s Instagram page to quality for special offers. Lastly, to cement brand loyalty, social media platforms should remain active and engaging, allowing consumers to spend more time with brand and hopefully, this results in increased brand loyalty.

15 July 2020
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